You have been in car accident and are thinking about making a claim against the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. You are going to call the other driver’s insurance company to make your claim for car repairs and/or personal injuries. As car accident attorneys, here is what we tell people to be aware of.
Insurance is a multi-billion dollar business.
After a car accident, the number one priority of an insurance company is not your well-being. Its interest is in protecting its bottom-line.
You are going to be like someone playing in a ball game where the other side knows all of the rules and you know none of them. Any “trick” an insurance company can use to decrease paying money to you may be used.
Here are 6 tricks that an insurance claims adjuster, the insurance company representative you will be dealing with, may try on you after a car accident. The insurance claims adjuster may:
- Try to get you to admit full or partial fault.
- Say you HAVE to give them a recorded statement.
- Ask you to sign a medical release form.
- Offer you few hundred dollars in exchange for a release.
- Suggest one of its “approved body shops” to get an estimate or make repairs.
- Advise you that your injuries are so minor you’re wasting your time having an attorney.
Getting you to admit fault.
If the police report does not assign fault, expect the other driver’s insurance company to take the side of its policyholder against you. The insurance adjuster may do the same if there is no police report. See What Happens When the Police Write a Report.
Even if the police report says the other driver is at fault, getting you to admit you partly caused the accident or contributed to the car accident will help the adjuster have a basis to reduce the amount of money you are entitled to.
Saying you HAVE to give them a recorded statement.
You do not have to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. You can just say that you are declining to give a recorded statement. In California it is illegal for anyone to record your conversation without your permission. Just tell the adjuster that you would prefer to not give a recorded statement and they should stop asking you. See No to Recorded Statement to Other Insurance Company. Also see Be Careful with What You Say to Insurance Companies.
You do, however, need to give a recorded statement to your own insurance company if they ask for one. See Do I Have to Give a Statement to My Own Insurance Company?
Asking you to sign a medical release form.
The insurance company is looking for preexisting conditions to account for any injuries you claim are the result of the car accident. You may have to eventually give them access to your medical records to get a settlement but you can decline in the beginning and then give them permission to see your medical records later.
Offering you a few hundred dollars in exchange for a release
You need to pay your medical bills and/or car repairs. The other driver’s insurance company offers you a check for the full amount of those bills plus “a little extra” for your inconvenience. In exchange for you agreeing to take that money, they will also send a document called a release. The release will contain a “full and final settlement” of all claims for the car accident. If you sign that document, you will not be able to go after the other driver for additional medical bills, additional damage, pain and suffering, loss wages, and more.
Suggests one of its “approved body shops” to get an estimate or make repairs.
It may seem like an easy request, but any “approved body shop” usually gives the insurance company reduced rates for the work. Any estimate may be low and may not be complete. The body shop may not even open up the car and look for hidden internal damage. Any repairs may be minimal.
Do not fall for the promise of an incentive or faster service. Take your car to a manufacturer’s facility or a shop you want. In California the insurance company is required by law to have your car repaired where you want the work done and cannot insist on you using one of their recommended shops. See The Right Way to Repair a Vehicle.
Advising you that your injuries are so minor you’re wasting your time having an attorney.
Only a licensed doctor can make the determination as to whether your injuries are minor or not. The adjuster does not have any right to give you medical advice. See a qualified doctor to make its determination. See After an Accident See a Doctor Right Away.
It is hoped that this information will help you be aware of tricks the other driver’s insurance company adjuster may try. If you are aware of the above tricks you should be able to control negotiations with the insurance claims adjuster better and have a more favorable resolution of your claim..
There is more information about the above topics, in my free E book 9 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your California Accident Case. You can download for free and read more about the matters discussed above.
If you are involved in a car accident, discuss your case for free with our experienced car accident attorneys. While you concentrate on healing, we will ensure you get the most compensation for the injuries you have sustained.
At the Law Offices of John P. Burns, we effectively handle your car accident claim so you can focus on recovering emotionally and physically without dealing with the details. It’s free to ask questions, so contact us directly at 949-496-7000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours.